solo exhibition “Vessel That Never Leaks”

扉を探す / Looking for a door, acrylic,dye,gesso on canvas, φ 90.0 cm ©Nana Funo


Matière is outstanding in Nana Funo’s work. She paints acrylic on the base, draws with pens, applies gesso to create stain and gradation, and adds motifs with acrylic paint again. These layers, produced by repetitive masking, embrace decorative patterns, animals and plants, figures, landscapes and written characters, and appear in incomparable texture.
Her delicate and repetitive motifs are like endless kaleidoscope that makes one feel almost dizzy. Both in a large painting of 4 m shown in her solo exhibition Who Knows the Stories (2009, Tomio Koyama Gallery Kyoto) and in 108 pieces of small paintings of 20 x 20 cm shown in Imagination on the Grass (2009, TKG Editions Kyoto), the intensity and concentration were the same, while the characteristic and depth of each painting varied. This indicates that Funo, who draws inspirations from the imaginary and fantastic worlds she has indulged since childhood, has unlimited capacity of imagination and strength of knowing how she can express them.
Funo’s drawing notebooks, other inspiration source, carry the same intensity. Like a diary, she keeps feelings in daily life and things that stay in her mind, all of which will potentially grow into paintings.


Inspirations fly away if not being kept by a pen or a brush. To hold it, one needs a receiver, like a vessel. Funo describes this in a conversation with an artist: If I don’t keep the things that are floating in drawing or paining, they will disappear. Nothing left. It feels like trying to scoop water with hands in a desert. Drips will soon disappear in the dry sand…I feel that I have always been looking for firm vessel that never leaks and keep things immediately.
The exhibition presents various paintings from large one over 5 m to small pieces of 20 x 20cm. Also the drawing notebooks described above, namely “vessel that never leaks”, will be also on the view for the first time at the exhibition.

Artist Profile

Nana Funo

Nana Funo’s paintings are richly filled with motifs of decorative patterns, animals and plants, figures, landscapes and written characters. They are composed with various techniques – graceful drawings of acrylic, repetitive overlaying of gesso or dye, patterns that come into appearance from masking – and the visual effect that embraces richness in layers arouse a curiosity to explore what is illustrated deep inside the paintings. Textures similar to porcelain, textile or sometimes relief can be observed in the works. The technique and unique textures she brings about by continuously moving her hands across the picture plane start to function as an independent language, and it is as if the artist gazes in concentration at the state of the world, while keeping it at a certain distance from herself and her works.

Nana Funo was born in 1983 in Shizuoka, Japan. In 2008, she received an M.F.A. in Painting from Kyoto City University of Arts. She currently lives and works in Kyoto. Her solo exhibitions at Tomio Koyama Gallery include “The Humidity of Underground and the Feel of Paper” (Tokyo, 2014), “The Fish Glitters as Its Scales Tremble “(Singapore, 2014), “Vessel That Never Leaks” (Tokyo, 2012) and “Who Knows the Stories” (Kyoto, 2009). Her selected group exhibitions include “The Way of Painting” (Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo, 2014) and “VOCA 2009 – The Vision of Contemporary Art” (The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo, 2009). Her work is included in MONTBLANC and GBU Japan, Takahashi Collection, Takamatsu City Museum of Art and the JAPIGOZZI Collection.